"Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples" will be the title above a ballot question presented to Minnesota voters on the state's constitutional definition of marriage, much to the chagrin of supporters.
Republican sponsors of the amendment wanted the amendment to be titled, "Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman." Now, they are upset that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie changed the title.
Gov. Mark Dayton has already vetoed the underlying bill, but he couldn't keep the proposed amendment off the ballot. He did, however, allow Ritchie to draft his own title.
Ritchie submitted the title Thursday to Attorney General Lori Swanson for final approval.
The ballot question will read: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"
So, does that help or hurt its chance of passage?
"Shifts in language can affect how people think about things," acknowledged Hamline University professor David Schultz."Titles mean a lot because that may be the only thing that people read when they get into the ballot box."
Minnesota for Marriage, which supports the amendment, says Ritchie overstepped his authority in changing the title.
"What it comes down to is: When they changed the title, it lets everybody know that the only way to control the definition of marriage is to put it in the Constitution, where politicians like Ritchie and special interests can't meddle with it," said Chuck Darrell.
On the flip side, opponents of the referendum at Minnesota United for All Families say the new title is "accurate."
Yet, Republican activists like Andy Brehm say the change just amounts to politically-motivated semantics and the title won't change much.
"Minnesotans are pretty savvy voters and I've got confidence that they're going to make a vote based on the substance of what's in it," he said. "Everyone in Minnesota knows what this amendment is about."